As a reader, I often find that so much depends on contextual clues the writer provides. Note how the example below, excerpted from a letter in Chapter 6, consistently provides contextual clues related to time ("Over the past year . . ."), content (The NIWC is a cross-community coalition . . ."), and background ("She spent three months in Belfast . . .") about both letter writer and student.
Over the past year I have watched Janet’s interest in Peace and Conflict Studies blossom into a very powerful thesis topic on issues of gender and politics in Northern Ireland. My area of expertise is in the area of gender and nationalism in Northern Ireland; for this reason I am confident when I say she has chosen a fascinating topic for exploration. As part of her research, Janet conducted a case study of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) last summer. She spent three months in Belfast conducting ethnographic and archival research. The NIWC is a cross-community coalition that was formed in 1996 and fully participated in the peace talks which led to the signing of the Easter Agreement. Recently, the NIWC has found itself at the center of political debates focused on issues of gender, class, and nationalism.
Seeking even more contextual efficiency than in the above example, many writers embrace the economy and fluidity fostered by single transition words, especially as they open paragraphs. When a closing paragraph of a recommendation letter begins with a simple transition word such as “Clearly” or “Indeed,” readers sense that the student is viewed in a warm, subjective, and emphatic manner, and they are invited to agree with the detail and spirit of that assessment. A simple transition word also has much more impact than some informal and inefficient phrasing such as “As far as the way I currently see Daniella overall. . . .” Bleah.
Below is a list of transition words that many writers find helpful. As a teacher of writing, I’m always slightly hesitant about providing word lists for fear that writers will simply select from them blindly—a “plug and chug” mentality—or reject the idea of a word list as too elementary. However, my experience with faculty has been that they do appreciate lists and use them appropriately as they consider options for how best to argue a student’s case.
Common Transition Words and Their Functions
In addition to the transition words listed above, you might find frequent use for simple contextual transitions that announce a paragraph or sentence topic simply by categorizing the criterion that you are about to address—words such as “Academically,” “Analytically,” “Athletically,” “Culturally,” “Intellectually,” “Linguistically,” “Scholastically,” “Socially.” Such words are valuable because they lend economy and establish immediate focus. However, avoid nonstandard usage of the suffix “-wise” to mean “in relation to”; such a practice creates irritating coined words such as “Knowledgewise,” or “Intellectualwise,” resulting in sloppy writing (and, in the two cases just cited, unintentional irony).
(2) Select the ones that deserve to be included in the limited space of a one or two-page paper. (See also our section on Relevance and Selection)
(3) Organize them into a logical sequence in the form of an outline or a diagram containing the basic ideas you intend to develop.
(4) Articulate your thoughts and arguments in a way that is clear, logical and persuasive with the help of the right linking words.
Commonly Used Connecting Words and Phrases
* To show similarity:
similarly, likewise, in a similar manner, like, in the same way, analogously
* To compare or show contrast:
however, nevertheless, rather, whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, on the contrary, by comparison, compared to, up against, balanced against, vis a vis, although, conversely, but, meanwhile, in contrast, after all, otherwise, alternatively.
* To express an alternative:
or, either . . . or, whether . . . or
* To express concession:
granted, naturally, of course, one may object that . . .
* To introduce a new point:
furthermore, moreover, in addition
* To place what you have just said in a particular context:
in this connection, in this perspective
* To add something:
and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, next, what is more, moreover, as well as, in addition, first (second, etc.), not only . . . but
* To prove your point:
because, for, since, for the same reason, obviously, evidently, indeed, in fact, in any case, that is, demonstrably.
* To show cause and effect:
as a result, consequently, hence, due to, in view of, on account of, accordingly, for this reason, therefore.
* To give an example or an illustration:
for example, for instance, in this case, in another case, take the case of, to illustrate, as an illustration, to take another example, namely, that is, as shown by, as illustrated by, as expressed by.
* To repeat, insist and/or refer back to an earlier point:
as I have said, in brief, as I have noted, as suggested above, as has been noted
* To emphasize:
definitely, extremely, indeed, absolutely, positively, obviously, naturally, always, never, surprisingly, emphatically, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably, without reservation, perenially, forever.
* To conclude a paragraph or an essay:
thus, lastly, in brief, in short, on the whole, to sum up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said
The words listed in each section have different meanings and are not interchangeable. If you have doubts as to the exact meaning of a connective, check them in your dictionary and/or in the "Essay writing" section of your Robert & Collins.
More exercises on linking words: BAC1 students in English Literature should click HERE to do these supplementary exercises interactively.The ULg "identifiant" and "mot de passe" is required to access the page. Others, whose work need not be monitored, should click here.